Textiles are among our most intimate designed objects. From the moment we are born, we are placed within their embrace. We live and dream within them. We use them to warm and clean ourselves. Textiles engage our entire body. Our sense of touch, vision, smell, and sound.
Textiles "are inextricably linked to daily activities . . . they provide an exemplary medium in which to examine the integration of old and new." [McCarty p17]
This presentation explores possible designs for future textiles. I am presenting five designs for future fabrics. Five concepts for hypothetical responsive textiles.
Although these are not real textiles, they are real examples of responsive software that I have written over the past two years. Each of these software concepts respond to their environment and execute in real time.
The focus of this presentation is the visual concepts and not the words. Half of this presentation is time for you to look and I will be silent.
This concept, HairyRed, is a sensitive skin that responds to pressure. Pressure from the body pushing against the fabric sets the control points which modify the form on the surface.
The histories of textiles and software cannot be separated. The Analytical Engine, the early proto-computer of Charles Babbage was inspired by the Jacquard Loom and was described as weaving "algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves." [Petzold p238]
This concept, RPM, is visually inspired by the photographic time-motion experiments of Herbert Matter and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. It's form, speed, and hue are determined by signals read from the human body.
"Fashions great seduction is its mutability."[Koda p8] The image saturated fabrics of designers Emilio Pucci, Dries van Noten, and Jean Paul Gautier exemplify the designers' desire to produce media saturated textiles which transform the surface of the body.
This concept, Seed, is an evolutionary design which changes slowly over time. Each proceeding image is the offspring of the previous two images synthetic genome.
The textile industry was a major driving force of the industrial revolution. Will the textile industry also be an important part of the potential biotech and nanotech revolutions? If so, what will the applications be?
This concept, Mediation, extracts colors from the wearer's environment and displays them on the vertical elements of the textile.
In conclusion, I want to say that this work was created without concern for issues of function and accessibility. It was a purely conceptual and aesthetic exercise. I believe that both approaches are essential for exploring the realm of the possible, desirable, and sustainable.
Koda, Harold. Extreme Beauty, The Body Transformed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York. 2001
McCarty, Cara and McQuaid, Matilda. Structure and Surface, Contemporary Japanese Textiles. The Museum of Modern Art. New York. 1998
Petzold, Charles. Code, The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software. Microsoft Press. Redmond, Washington. 2000
© Casey Reas 2002.
Not to be reproduced without the permission of the author.